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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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Pictured are some of the prisoners of war forced to march 97 miles in January 1945 as Allied armies closed in and the Nazi abandoned prison camps. Frank Saunders, shown by the arrow, was part of this group liberated at Moosburg, Germany on April 29, 1945.

SAUNDERS, Frank. (Dubuque, IA, Feb. 24, 1920- ). Known locally as "Frankie," Saunders was also a well-known CYO amateur boxer. The Columbia Academy rifle team, of which he was a member, was so successful it once competed for the Hearst Cup in the Camp Perry National Rifle Competition held in Booneville, Missouri.

A bomber pilot during WORLD WAR II, Saunders rose to the rank of first lieutenant. He was with the 306th Bomber Grout stateside from April 1942 until July 1942. He was transferred to the 303rd on July 6. 1942 and shot down on January 3, 1943 in B-17F 41-24608 'Yehudi' while serving as pilot. His plane crashed into Bay of Biscay. Saunders was a POW at Oflag 64 or 21B Shubin, Poland (moved to Usedom, Germany), Altburgund 53-17. He was shot down on his 5th mission. For his service, Frank Saunders, received the Prisoner of War Medal and Purple Heart. (1)

Living in Chicago after the war, he accompanied a friend to a modeling agent and was soon making eighty dollars a day. Despite the income, he returned to Dubuque to complete his college work at LORAS COLLEGE. (2)

Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald

Saunders returned to Chicago, worked as a janitor at the Merchandise Mart at night and looked for modeling work during the day. He became one of the nation's most recognized models through his major account, Kreml Hair Cream. Recognized by millions but unknown by name, he was also the man, according to the advertisements, who owned Pontiacs, wore Alligator Rainwear, used Revere cameras and preferred Griesedieck beer. He appeared in Life magazine and the pages of Saturday Evening Post He even earned a role in the 1949 motion picture "The Great Gatsby" starring Alan Ladd. (3)

In 1951 Saunders began making product commercials, ads accompanying theater movies, and industrial films. (4)

In 1956 with a family, beginning to feel he was too old for what he was doing, and reeling from the death of a friend in an automobile accident, Saunders return to Dubuque to work for the DUBUQUE RETAIL MERCHANTS BUREAU, serve as the secretary of the chamber of commerce, and sell real estate. He later went to work for the postal service. (5)

306 insignia.
303 insignia



1. "Frank A. Saunders," American Air Museum in Britain. Online: http://www.americanairmuseum.com/person/66902

2. McCormick, John. "Frank Saunders: Recalling the 'Slick' Old Times," Telegraph Herald, June 15, 1981, p. 5

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid.